By Jason KUROSU
The City of Glendale’s budget is in line with projections, according to city staff, with slight increases in revenue allowing for budget adjustments for a number of programs, including the city’s winter shelter program, special election costs and several new job positions.
The Glendale City Council filed the fiscal year 2015-16 budget Tuesday, which indicated a $1.5 million increase in revenue estimates for the 2015-16 fiscal year. These increases came from increased transient occupancy taxes (taxes levied to hotel/motel guests within the city), licenses and permits, charges for services and revenues from other agencies.
Other positives for the city’s finances include a recent legal victory against the state’s Dept. of Finance. The City of Glendale loaned money to the department’s Redevelopment Agency, which was dissolved in 2011, and its funds shifted to state schools. Glendale sued the department when those loan repayments were not made.
The city is expecting a reimbursement of $3.9 million this year and the eventual full repayment of more than $40 million. That decision could still be appealed, but city officials called that possibility unlikely.
Currently, the city’s revenues are $116,000 higher than at this point last year, according to Bob Elliott, Glendale director of Finance.
Among the second quarter budget adjustments approved Tuesday were $40,615 that would go toward establishing a new winter shelter. In light of El Niño conditions, a shelter will be open at 1219 Los Angeles St. and will be operated by Ascencia, a nonprofit that annually hosts Glendale’s winter shelters.
Of the budget, $540,450 will go toward costs for this June’s special election, during which Glendale voters will decide whether to repeal the city’s Utility Users Tax. Election costs include polling services and outreach costs, such as postage, GTV6 broadcasting, and advertising.
The Utility Users Tax is composed of taxes on the gross sale of electricity (7%), gas (7%), water (7%) and communications (6.5%) and was approved by voters in 2009.
According to a city report, Glendale stands to lose $17.5 million in the event of a repeal. The council also adopted a resolution Tuesday that called for citizens to author arguments for and against the ballot measure. The deadline to request to write arguments is Feb. 19. Written arguments must be submitted to the city clerk by March 11.
The council also approved a savings incentive program, distributing up to $50,000 to city departments that stay within their budgets; $418,000 was appropriated for the incentive program for this fiscal year.
The amount of $103,324 was appropriated for maintenance costs for three graphics copiers to be used primarily by the Glendale Unified School District, but also for other city purposes.
An adjustment of $298,822 in a citywide grant fund was made for the future purchase of nine Metro/FTA buses. Also $50,000 was appropriated for the Public Works Dept. for the Enhanced Abandoned Items Program, which will fund citywide sweeps for illegally dumped items on public streets.
A number of appropriations were made for full-time positions in various city departments, including the city clerk department, Public Works, Glendale Water & Power and the Fire Department. The fire department was also appropriated $50,000 to cover overtime costs related to inspections performed throughout the city.
Salary ceilings for a number of city positions, for which quality candidates were deemed “difficult to recruit and retain,” were also raised Tuesday among the round of budget adjustments. These positions include police custody officers, librarians, city planners, parking meter collectors, project managers, assistant city attorneys, among others.
A city survey comparing Glendale employee salaries in those positions to those of neighboring cities showed that those Glendale employee classifications were as much as 18% below what other municipalities were offering. The survey was conducted by the city’s Human Resources Department, in collaboration with two employee unions, the Glendale City Employees’ Association and the Glendale Management Association.
As a result of the survey findings, it was agreed upon that certain salary ceilings would be elevated to match the market average. An appropriation of $143,000 was made to fund the compensation alignment adjustments.